There is strong evidence that the many conspiracy theories surrounding the disappearance and death earlier this year of the far-right Belgian military Jürgen Conings come from Russian internet influencers, the chief of Staff of the Belgian Army Michel Hofman says.
According to the chief of staff of the army, Conings was subscribed to extremist groups from Russia, the internet is awash with false information targeting our way of life.
Conings made the headlines in May after he disappeared without a trace with a large number of heavy weapons stolen from a barracks. The police and the Army spent weeks hunting down the shooting instructor, who, out of anger over the coronavirus policy, was targeting virologists and the government. Because of his threats, also known in the Netherlands, virologist Marc Van Ranst was put in a safe house with his family for weeks.
During his disappearance and especially after he was found dead in a forest a month later, all kinds of suspicions were shared via social media that the military ‘knew too much’ and therefore has been murdered. Conings soon after his disappearance committed suicide.
The case highlighted that Belgium needs to build up a full-fledged cyber division at Defence faster, says Hofman. It is now scheduled for 2030, but it needs to be faster, ‘preferably tomorrow’. Some 300 highly qualified military and civilian personnel should be employed.